It’s common knowledge that the interests and expectations of young people are changing, but as cricket pivots to keep pace, we should consider what may be lost.
It’s the third day of the 2018 Adelaide Test match.
India’s Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli are stubbornly blunting Australia’s attack in an important, if attritional, partnership.
My friend and I are well aware that this is a crucial part of the match. If Kohli falls, then he will expose the middle order. If they bat out the day, then India will go a long way to building an unassailable lead.
It’s tight, high-stakes cricket.
Despite knowing this, I can’t help but feel a little impatient as Pujara expertly pads away another Nathan Lyon delivery.
Dare I say it, with the Test in the balance and against my better judgement, I’m feeling a little… bored.
I mentally and physically kick myself for my weakness. After all, I have happily watched and participated in hundreds of hours of far less engaging cricket.
But I just want to be there for something magical, to be part of something special, and dammit, I want it now.
I lean forward in my seat and fidget with my knees. I begin to ask whether my friend would like another beverage, before catching myself mid-sentence.
If my friend and I – self-diagnosed long-form aficionados – do not appreciate what is unfolding, who will?
I decide to suck it up and intensify my interest in the contest. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
To our right, a middle-aged gentleman is sitting with his son and a few of the youngster’s friends. The father and I have engaged in a few pleasantries throughout the day and he now rises from his seat.
“Alright, I’ve had enough, let’s go get something to eat,” he declares to his young troupe. “Might even sneak in a cheeky Pimm’s.”
I nod my approval at his comment and glance hopefully at my Test-attending buddy, who I note with a tinge of regret is staring intently at the replay screen. I once again draw myself into the depths of my seat.
“We can’t leave now!” chirps the man’s son. “Kohli’s in.”
“He’ll still be in when we get back,” replies the father.
“But he might not be.”
The father sighs, stretches for a while and then retakes his seat. Kohli makes 34 before he’s caught off of an inside edge at short leg. The excitement of the wicket is quickly quelled by the fact that we won’t get to witness a masterclass.
Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane bat out the remaining overs and my friend and I head to Rundle Street, both quite unreasonably a little disappointed at what we saw, but too proud to admit it.
Nonetheless, we came back the next day and the day after that, and just about saw our classic.
The father said he wouldn’t be back for more – he was waiting for the Big Bash. But he was glad he took his son and his friends out to the match.
For their part, the kids were looking forward to watching the next day’s play, even though it would have been on television.
They couldn’t wait to see more of Pujara’s batting. “He averages 50.”
They knew this as they had his profile open on Cricinfo.